Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let the planning begin!

After about 8 months of being engaged with no wedding planning attempted, I finally started to feel ready to dive in a little bit back in August of last summer. I knew what church I wanted to get married in (St. Thomas of Villanova), so I contacted them to find out what I needed to do to get started and put my name on the infamous list. The university is a popular place to get married, and therefore their church has A LOT of rules to follow. Fortunately the rumored 4 year waiting period was wrong. In fact, we could not book our date sooner than 18 months in advance (actually a good rule because otherwise I'm sure the list could become 4 years long). There were also other deadlines and paperwork. Because we were not parish members, we had to find a priest who would be willing to officiate our mass and we needed to have a letter of permission from the church to which we currently belonged.
A word of advice: Regardless of where/when you want to get married, decide on a church first and contact them to see what they need from you to set a date. If you are Catholic, you probably will need to be a registered member of the parish and you may or may not need certain documentation of your baptism/confirmation among other things.
Next was the venue. Late last summer I began the search. At first I started with Google, but I soon realized the results were not necessarily tailored to what I was looking for. That's when I stumbled upon the Knot. I made a username and got access to search engines tailored to wedding venues/vendors. I was able to search based on location, cost, accommodations and more. I was also able to save venues I liked for later. I used this as the launching pad.
A word of advice:  Look into a wedding website to at least create a username to take advantage of their features. Some sources nowadays even recommend developing your own wedding website for your guests to utilize for information about registry and details about your shower, bachelorette party and the big day itself. See the "About wedding planning" Page for additional useful links.
We got a list together and my fiance, parents and I took a trip. We were able to see 3 places in one day, each appointment lasted between 1-2 hours. We got a full tour of the facility and then sat down with the facility's wedding coordinator to discuss the details of the wedding package and costs. By the end of that day we had a place in mind that we wanted.  However, we were still 5 months out from being able to set our date and officially book, which we had told each place we had seen. We went home, went over the details and made a mental commitment to our favorite venue.

September - January was pretty low key for us as far as the planning went. We continued working with our local parish and the church at Villanova to get all of the paperwork done. As January arrived we were prepared. We had our date in mind and we knew our venue had it in mind too. February 1st we called... we got our first choice date and time! That afternoon we called the venue.

Surprise! They changed their package! Yikes. This threw me for a loop. They gave us a week to decide. In typical me fashion I became neurotic crunching numbers and looking for other locations that were less expensive. Howie got pretty sick of my antics, but I couldn't commit without knowing I had considered everything and was 300% sure that we wanted to make this place work. I even made my parents take and impromtu trip back to Philly to look at three more locations that were more cost effective. We were sorely disappointed with them in comparison to our dream place. Impulsively on the way home I said lets do a drive by of the original venue. We got there and I fell in love all over again.
Lesson learned: Yes, its nice to have time to be "la-dee-da," but keep tabs on things when/if you have lags of time between decisions. In hindsight we should have called the venue before booking the date to ensure everything we had previously discussed was the same. This would have given us buffer time and prevented the neurosis outbreak I had.   
In the end we did the number crunch and Howie and I committed to making this venue work, even if it meant cutting out other things. We had "the feeling" and we were gonna run with it. Its been almost 3 months since making that decision and I am still thrilled and excited envisioning my big day happening at the venue we chose. Its going to be beautiful!

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